Hayes, Williams, Turner & Daughtry, P.A.

Sentimental items without cash value may still cause heir fights

Do you think high-value items are most likely to cause conflict between heirs? Maybe you assume people would fight over the family fortune, especially if life-changing money and assets are involved.

While people certainly can and do fight over these assets, many warn that items with sentimental value can also lead to court battles. They may have almost no real-world value, but heirs will want them because of the memories and emotions that go along with them.

For instance, perhaps your father wore a watch every day, even when he wasn't going to work. You live in a world in which watches are relatively pointless, since everyone has the time on their phones. It may not even be a nice watch; you couldn't resell it. But you still remember your father wearing it, it is a beautiful family heirloom and you may want it more than plenty of items with a higher monetary value.

One problem with estate planning is that people sometimes forget about the impact of sentimental value for their kids. It's hard for parents to grasp since they may not be emotionally connected to the items in quite the same way. As a result, a will may ignore these small items while focusing on cars, homes, insurance policies and things with more real value.

This can leave the door open to disagreements between heirs. A man or woman may think the estate planning has been done flawlessly to prevent a fight when the opposite is actually true.

These situations can grow very complex and emotionally charged, and it's critical for all involved to know their legal rights.

Source: NY Times, "When Heirs Fight Over Assets With Sentimental Value," Paul Sullivan, accessed July 18, 2017

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